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Neil Francis set to review Matthew Bourne’s radical Swan Lake production

Published 18/02/2014 | 18:54

Rugby pundit Neil Francis has agreed to review Matthew Bourne's radical production of Swan Lake when it opens next week in Dublin.

Francis has apologised ‘unreservedly’ for his comments surrounding homophobia in sport at the weekend which caused a flurry of criticism when among other things he suggested that “as a sportsman you don't like ballet.”, comments he has since withdrawn.

On RTÉ Radio 1’s Mooney Show, Francis agreed to review the unique show which opens at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre next week, along with Stephen Brennan, Education officer at Ballet Ireland.

Matthew Bourne’s iconic production is best-known for replacing the traditional female corps-de-ballet with an all-male ensemble.

Francis conceded that he had never been to a ballet before, but is looking forward to the experience, predicting the review will be “challenging” for a ballet novice.

“I’ve agreed to do this because I want to do it.”

Francis admitted he had little knowledge about Swan Lake previously, but is aware of the artistic difference that awaits in Bourne’s production.

“The Matthew Bourne production seems to be radically different and innovative from anything I would have seen on TV before.”

Regarded as one of the finest ballets, Bourne’s production is a unique take on Tchaikovsky’s famed piece of work with male ballet dancers replacing swan maidens.

“Matthew Bourne has changed Swan Lake on its head with male swans,” Brennan explained.

“They are barefoot, it is contemporary dance, it is accessible movement and impacts in different way to the traditional production.”

When asked if he would be comfortable with the male romance storyline that features in the play, Francis quipped: “I’ll try anything once.”

Francis added he has learned a great deal since he expressed his “clumsy” comments at the weekend.

“It’s not the first time I have got myself into trouble," he told presenter Derek Mooney.

"I have had a huge amount of emails and texts from both sides.”

“It’s one of those things you live and learn from.”

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake production opens at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre next Tuesday, with Francis giving his account on the Mooney Show the following day.


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